Apr 25, 2022
Nearly nine in 10 young Americans want the government to address the student loan debt crisis, with a plurality--but overall minority--supporting full cancellation, according to the results of a national survey published Monday.
The survey, conducted by Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics (IOP), found that 85% of respondents under age 30 "favor some form of government action on student loan debt."
However, "young Americans had no clear consensus on a path forward related to student loan debt," with 38% of overall respondents wanting all debt canceled, 27% agreeing that the government should assist with--but not cancel--repayment, 21% favoring cancellation for the neediest borrowers, and 13% supporting the status quo.
\u201cNew Harvard IOP Poll findings: 85% of young Americans favor some form of government action on student loan debt, including a plurality favoring FULL student debt cancellation\nhttps://t.co/6SCPfhIv43\u201d— Braxton \ud83d\udfe5 (@Braxton \ud83d\udfe5) 1650892952
Among Democratic voters, the survey found 43% support for canceling all debt, 19% wanting some government help, 29% backing cancellation for those in need, and 4% favoring current policy.
"Opinions on this issue do not differ significantly among likely voters in the 2022 midterms compared to the broader population of 18-to-29-year-olds," said IOP, "as 83% of young likely voters express a preference for government action, including 79% of those not in college now, and without a degree."
\u201cOh, what do you know \u2014 9 in 10 young Americans support the federal government taking action on student debt. Just cancel it.\nhttps://t.co/S4iifjCj2C\u201d— The Debt Collective \ud83d\udfe5 (@The Debt Collective \ud83d\udfe5) 1650904644
The IOP survey also found:
- A majority (54%) of white Americans and 49% of Asian-Americans under 30 "strongly" agreed with the statement, "I grew up thinking it was possible for me to go to college," compared to only 32% of Black Americans and 38% of Latinos under 30; and
- Forty-eight percent of young Americans agree--but only 18% strongly agree--with the statement, "Going to college is worth the time and money," while 26% disagreed and 24% chose a neutral position.
The survey also revealed that young people are increasingly cynical about the ability of electoral politics to deliver solutions to the world's problems.
\u201cHarvard Youth Poll: 2022 midterm elections on track to match 2018 turnout among young Americans; 40% of Americans under 30 prefer Democrats maintain control of Congress, while 28% prefer Republicans (@alanfzhang @dellavolpe @HarvardIOP) Details: https://t.co/P3ncK94vR5\u201d— Opinion Today (@Opinion Today) 1650915607
In what IOP called a "warning sign that interest in voting in the 2022 midterms could wane," the survey found a sharp increase in the percentage of youth who agree that "political involvement rarely has any tangible results," from 22% in 2018 to 36% in 2022. More than four in 10 survey respondents also agreed with the assertion that their vote won't "make a real difference," while over half of those surveyed believe that "politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing."
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